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1988 Land Rover Perentie Defender 110 long-term review part 1: 4x4 Shed

By Matt Wood, 25 May 2017 Reviews

1988 Land Rover Perentie Defender 110  1

Temptation to own a Land Rover Perentie was too great to resist.

SO I bought a Perentie. It’s all Robbie Emmins’ fault. If I hadn’t taken his 1956 Series 1 for a drive a while back, the Land Rover flame may not have been rekindled.

The Perentie 4x4 is actually a Defender 110 built in Sydney for the ADF. In soft-top form it’s a rough, tough, noisy, flapping tent on wheels that has all the ergonomic comfort of sitting in a hay shed during a hailstorm. They’ll happily sit on 100km/h all day long, but the sensation is similar to being in a low-flying crop duster. However, the Perentie is quite possibly the most capable Land Rover ever built, and best of all they’re also part of Australian manufacturing history. And, for the beach bums out there, they sit on a galvanised chassis.

1988 Land Rover Perentie Defender 110
I’d been watching the Australian Frontline Machinery auctions on Grays Online, and the prices seemed to have stabilised somewhat. There were, after all, only 2500 Perentie 4x4s made and roughly 600 6x6 variants. As the clock ticked down on the auctions in Darwin and Sydney I couldn’t help myself and threw in a bid, and then another, and then got completely caught up in the hype.

Land Rover History

The Minto NSW auctions make the most sense for east coast buyers. These vehicles come with a NSW blue slip ready for rego, and it’s an easier location to inspect the goods beforehand. As a result, these trucks always go for more dough. I, however, did things completely arse about, and bought one for substantially less in Darwin, sight unseen – which, of course, you should never do. I then decided to do something even more inadvisable, I decided drive it back to Brisbane across the heart of the outback to give us some bonding time.

1988 Land Rover Perentie Defender 110  interior
I checked over the new purchase on arrival. It was cosmetically a little shabby; sitting around in the tropics had weathered a few bits and pieces. But the 66kW/245Nm 3.9-litre Isuzu diesel coughed into life with no dramas. The coolant was where the coolant should be and so was the oil. I checked for anything that may be loose, threw my swag in the back and then hit the road south. Perenties use a four-speed LT95A transmission and the gear ratios are quite tall, which is good for highway driving. They have a reputation for eating clutches if driven unsympathetically, though. Front and rear diffs are Salisbury and Rover.

1988 Land Rover Perentie Defender 110  tray
4x4 models are naturally aspirated, but the 6x6 variants are turbocharged. That said, the unstressed Isuzu donk took the drive in its stride. I was even able to pass a triple road train or two. I was tempted to divert via the Savannah Way, but figured I was pushing my luck as it was. On road these Landies handle like a bowl of porridge, but Perenties came standard with a 2.5-inch lift (over a standard Defender) and sit on coils all round, so show it a bit of dirt and it’s immediately at home.

Video: Land Rover Defender 90 Heritage Edition

The trip wasn’t entirely without incident as I had some lighting issues, so I had to drive mainly through the daylight hours – the wiring is a dog’s breakfast. It would also occasionally jump out of high-range, but some zip-tie engineering got me home.

1988 Land Rover Perentie Defender 110  canvas
I may now be a little deafer, but I’ve well and truly succumbed to the Peretie bug. Now it’s time to get it ready for rego and perhaps the addition of a turbo. Let the fun begin.

TOTAL KM: 97,368KM
AV FUEL: 11.7l/100km